Park Lane, Euston Road, Lewisham Road Closures and Note to Councillors

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Transport for London (TfL) have been active in reducing road space in London by claiming an epidemic emergency. They have introduced a cycle lane on Park Lane, and with the bus lane that has reduced what used to be a three- lane road to one lane. This is one of the key North/South roads in London and the result is heavy traffic congestion extending to roads such as the Edgware Road. The new cycle lane is little used though because there is a good alternative route through Hyde Park.

Another road TfL have now damaged is Euston Road, a key east-west route. One lane has been removed and a speed limit of 20 mph imposed. TfL just seem to be kowtowing to the demands of cyclists and other anti-vehicle groups and the result is great damage to the road network. Longer journey times, more traffic congestion and more air pollution will be the result. London is becoming a “no-go” area for anyone who wishes to drive and use private transport rather than risk infection by using public transport.

Local borough councils across London have been following the lead of TfL and are not just putting in cycle lanes and widening pavements but actually closing roads. How that helps social distancing is difficult to imagine. Lewisham Council is one of the leaders of this illogical move. Make sure you sign this petition against the road closures in Lewisham: https://www.change.org/p/london-borough-of-lewisham-stop-road-closures-in-lewisham/

PLEASE SIGN IT!

But if you live in another part of London, or even elsewhere in the country, this is a note you could send to your local Councillors to deter them from following Lewisham’s lead:

Dear Councillor,

In the current Covid-10 Epidemic, the Government is encouraging local Councils to introduce measures to temporarily:

a)       Provide more social distancing for pedestrians – for example by widening pavements.

b)       Encourage the use of active transport modes such as cycling or walking so as to relieve the pressure on public transport where there will be limited capacity in the short term and to encourage people to use other forms of transport than cars where increased use might lead to congestion.

That includes new Statutory Guidance under the Traffic Management Act 2004. The suggestion is that Temporary Traffic Orders might be used to implement such measures, where such Orders are required.

I have no objection to ensuring that pavements are sufficiently wide to avoid close contact, the possible suspension of parking bays to enable wider pavements and some provision of cycle lanes on a temporary basis so long as road space is not permanently removed. However, there is a suggestion that road closures might also be considered.

Closing roads (e.g. by the use of “modal filters” or “school streets” involving timed closures) provides absolutely no benefit in terms of social distancing and should therefore not be considered unless there are very good reasons to do so. Neither do they encourage cycling as roads can always be shared between cyclists and other road users.

In addition road closures delay emergency service vehicles who have to take longer routes or can get delayed by extra traffic congestion on main roads. When ambulances are delayed, seconds can count in keeping people alive.

Could you please therefore ensure that our local council does not close roads, even temporarily, in response to the Covid-19 epidemic. It is extremely important that the road network is maintained in a fit state and no artificial restraints are placed on it. Road closures can very rarely be justified even in normal times and it is particularly important at present not to create longer journey times and more traffic congestion.

It is also important to bear in mind that many disabled and elderly people rely on their motor vehicles and they will certainly not be capable or willing to cycle or walk instead. Regrettably the Government seems to have ignored a substantial section of the population in some of their advice but there is no good reason why you need to go to such extremes.

Please consider my comments above and advise your policy on this issue.

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Councillors details including contact information are usually readily available from a council’s web site.

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Petition Against Lewisham Road Closures

The road closures in the Lee Green area of Lewisham are now being installed. For example Upwood Road, a key local route to avoid the congested main roads and which provides access to many local roads has been blocked by “modal filters”. Drivers have actually been driving around the road blocks, as they have also been doing on South Row on Blackheath. This video on the BBC News web site shows what is happening: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/av/uk-england-london-53261402/cars-mount-pavement-to-avoid-lewisham-road-barrier . It’s just symptomatic of the frustration of drivers but the Council is taking steps to block this dangerous behaviour.

We have set up a petition on Change.org to ask Lewisham to drop these closures and not install more of them. See:

https://www.change.org/p/london-borough-of-lewisham-stop-road-closures-in-lewisham/

PLEASE SIGN IT!

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City of London Road Closures

The City of London Corporation have issued a note about the road closures and advisory 15 mph speed limits in the square mile. This is claimed to be a response to the Covid-19 epidemic but is consistent with their long-term strategy to remove all traffic from City streets.

To quote: “The City of London Corporation has begun delivery of its transport recovery plan, designed to ensure the safety of residents, workers and visitors as people return to the Square Mile.

The scheme is primarily focused on providing the space needed to maintain social distancing on our streets and to enable safe walking, cycling and the managed use of public transport”.

Key roads such as Cannon Street, Old Broad Street and Leadenhall Street are affected.

See https://www.cityoflondon.gov.uk/services/transport-and-streets/Pages/covid-19-city-streets.aspx for more information and where you can give your comments.

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Islington Closing Roads

The London Borough of Islington is using the same tactic of closing roads using Experimental Traffic Orders as some other London boroughs. They are using the Covid-19 epidemic as an excuse to make them “people friendly streets”. They are also using the CommonPlace system as an alternative to proper public consultation – see https://islingtonpeoplefriendlystreets.commonplace.is/

But there is already substantial opposition to the closures which will just force traffic onto other roads. A petition against the proposals has been  created on Change.org – see https://www.change.org/p/islington-residents-stop-islington-councils-closure-of-local-roads?

Please sign the petition. Closing roads is hardly ever justified and particularly so at the present time when an efficient and open road network is so essential for transport of all kinds.

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Lewisham Pushes Ahead Regardless in Lee Green

The Alliance of British Drivers issued the following national press release yesterday:

One Metre Rule Makes ‘Social Distancing’ Road Blockages Redundant

Many current and proposed road blockages are now unnecessary argue the ABD.

Spokesperson Paul Biggs explains:

Anti-car authorities all over the UK have relished the chance to obstruct motorised traffic under the guise of encouraging walking and cycling by enabling 2 metre distancing. Most of these schemes have dubious merit and many have simply resulted in making life more difficult for drivers, clogging up the roads whilst the extra space remains virtually unused. With the expected announcement that a 1 metre gap is sufficient, there is even less justification for such schemes. Existing schemes should be scrapped and no further schemes pursued. The roads must be allowed to flow freely to get the economy back on track.

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One London Council that is ignoring this in their desperation to get road closures in place is Lewisham. They previously proposed numerous road closures (modal filters and school streets) as part of their Healthy Neighbourhood proposals. This generated numerous objections from local residents which enthusiastic cyclist Councillor Sophie McGeevor proceeded to ignore.

But the Council has just circulated a letter in Lee Green which spells out that they will be implementing almost identical proposals next week using the Covid-19 epidemic as an excuse. See the letter here which includes the latest map of the proposals: https://www.freedomfordrivers.org/Lee%20Green%20Council%20Letter%202020-06-23B.pdf

The road closures will be implemented using Experimental or Temporary Traffic Orders which have not been published (we will advise the details when known). There will be no public consultation on the proposals – effectively they will be delivered as a fait accompli by Councillors ignoring the views of many residents, particularly those elderly or disabled who cannot cycle or walk far.

These road changes are clearly intended to be made permanent in due course. Residents should object to the Traffic Orders and should bear in mind the names of the local ward councillors at the next local council elections who have supported these plans – namely Octavia Holland, Jim Mallory and James Rathbone in Lee Green.

Postscript: The first road closures in Lewisham have now been put in for Scawen Road, George Lane, Kitto Road, Glenbow Road, South Row, Bishopsthorpe Road and Silverdale. These closures have been authorised using a Temporary Traffic Order – see: https://www.freedomfordrivers.org/Lewisham%20Temporary%20Traffic%20Order%20Phase-1%202020-06-22.pdf

We have sent the Council this letter pointing out that the road closures are unjustified and the wording of the Traffic Order does not justify the closures as it needs to do: https://www.freedomfordrivers.org/ABD_Letter%202020-06-26-Web.pdf

The Council seem to be ignoring all the legal niceties including putting in the road closures even before the date authorised on the Traffic Order.

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Lewisham and Westminster Road Closures

The closure of roads in Lewisham continues to generate strong opposition. South Row (near Blackheath) is a particular concern to local residents although the Council has made one change already and has another in motion. This is what one person said on the CommonPlace web site:

“Having read through all the comments I now understand what has happened. A small number of local residents have long been advocating for their own interests to get this road closed through democratic processes, but have previously failed. The council now has emergency discretionary powers due to COVID which it is arguing it is using to enable social distancing. This is clearly wrong (see comments re walking on the adjacent heath). The council has decided to assuage this small number of vocal residents by using these powers for this scheme, enabling them to side step consultation. However, roads belong to everyone, not just those whose house happens to be on them and this is clearly creating so much increased traffic, risk and confusion to legitimate road users including those accessing their own homes, schools and businesses that it should be immediately scrapped – rather than adding further barriers. This is misconceived scheme and really must be a misuse of the powers provided. This is by far the most controversial scheme of all those put forward and should be abandoned immediately”.

That’s typical of the over 400 comments posted to date. The Council is also having to replace the “temporary” planters that closed the roads, and which people have been moving, by “rising bollards” which will increase the cost very substantially. This reinforces our belief that these changes are intended to be made permanent.

You can see all the comments about the closures, and add your own, here: https://lewishamcovidresidentialstreets.commonplace.is/overview

PLEASE MAKE SURE YOU ADD SOME NEGATIVE COMMENTS AND “LIKE” THOSE WHO OPPOSE THESE CLOSURES ON COMMONPLACE!

Westminster Road Closures

Another borough who are introducing road closures using the Covid-19 epidemic as a justification is Westminster – more specifically in this case as a way to re-open the hospitality sector in some parts of the borough. To quote from their report: “In order for hospitality businesses to continue to trade whilst social distancing measures remain in place, we want to support them to serve as many customers outside as they possibly can in a safe and responsible manner. To allow this to happen, we will close some roads to traffic at certain times of the day. We will also widen pavements in appropriate areas of the city. This will create the space needed for restaurants, cafes and similar businesses to put tables and chairs outside. Roads will be closed using ‘soft’ measures which can be installed and removed at the beginning and end of each timed period such as barriers and cones”.

The map below shows the areas that will be affected – such as Soho, Covent Garden, Oxford Circus, etc. Many of the road closures only apply after 5.00 pm. They may mainly affect taxis, delivery vehicles and local residents.

Comment: These do not seem unreasonable measures to enable more social distancing and allow for more open-air activity by such measures as widening pavements. However the closures in Soho might be considered excessive. But you can send your own comments to: movementstrategy@westminster.gov.uk

See https://tinyurl.com/y84v6dnb for more details.

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Lewisham Residents Remove Road Closures

Residents opposed to the road closures put in by Lewisham Council on South Row and other roads have been moving the temporary “planters” and been driving through the “Road Closed” signs. The Council will be installing droppable bollards (for emergency service access) from next week to address this “problem” to ensure no motor vehicular traffic can pass through. See link below for details.

Surely this is a good sign of the strength of opposition to these measures that the Council should heed. They are going to remove one of the barriers on South Row but we doubt this will overcome all the objections to this scheme. The council have received hundreds of comments on South Row and the other road closures which they have ignored when they should have done a proper consultation of both local residents and the road users in advance of implementation.

There is no real democracy in Lewisham so some people have decided to take the law into their own hands – it’s hardly surprising.

More Info:

https://lewishamcovidresidentialstreets.commonplace.is/news/18/06/2020/lblcovid19responseupdate

Lewisham Road Closures Done?

The first of many road closures in Lewisham have been installed (otherwise known under the euphemism of “modal filters”).  The roads involved are: Scawen Road, George Lane, Kitto Road, Glenbow Rd, South Row, Bishopsthorpe Rd and Silverdale.

The photographs above and below show the closures on George Lane and Bishopshorpe Road, although in the latter case one can still drive through the obstruction and many people are. One of the “planters” has been moved aside – perhaps by disgruntled residents?

On George Lane numerous vehicles are having to turn round when they meet the obstruction.

You can see many negative comments about the closure of George Lane on this web site (and add your own):   https://lewishamcovidresidentialstreets.commonplace.is/overview

This was one comment: “The first few days have just seemed to divert the same levels of traffic down narrower and more residential roads. I now feel less safe walking on my street (Springrice Road) and certainly wouldn’t feel comfortable getting on a bike on the same road”. It is very clear that the traffic has soon found alternative routes in nearby roads.

As with the other road closures listed on CommonPlace, the objections of residents have been ignored even before they were put in. The closure of South Row alone has already received 278 comments, mostly negative.

Note that one respondent on Twitter queried the cost of these 30 closures in Lewisham in the short term. He suggested that the cost might be about £1,000. This is totally unrealistic. The Healthy Neighbourhood scheme for Lee Green and Lewisham with some temporary road closures and “school streets” was going to cost nearly £500,000 based on a response to an FOI ACT request we submitted. (Reference FOI- 5602941). To quote from it: “The costs for the trial will be approximately 500k – (Construction 300k, consultation approx 40k, traffic data 20k, modelling 50k. plus Although some of the capital costs for, example, planters, can be reused in other cells. TOTAL 492k”.

Regrettably most members of the public have no realistic view of what the costs for highway changes done by local authorities actually are. In essence this is Lewisham Council wasting hundreds of thousands of taxpayers money to please a few cyclists while ignoring the inconvenience to other residents.

PLEASE MAKE SURE YOU ADD SOME NEGATIVE COMMENTS AND “LIKE” THOSE WHO OPPOSE THESE CLOSURES ON COMMONPLACE!

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More Road Closures in London

I mentioned in previous blog posts the road closures in Lewisham and Hackney using the Covid-19 epidemic as an excuse. There are also road closures being installed in:

Tower Hamlets. This borough proposes to close numerous roads. See this Traffic Order for details of some of them and where to send your objections: https://www.thegazette.co.uk/notice/3571436

Waltham Forest: This borough proposed a number of “Mini-Holland” schemes that involved road closures before the epidemic hit. Some have been delayed or cut back due to financial limitations, but there are still promoting walking and cycling via “low traffic streets” in the Coppermill and Hilltop areas. See https://enjoywalthamforest.co.uk/enjoy-waltham-forest/walking-and-cycling/ . As in Lewisham, they are using a CommonPlace web site as a consultation method but in this case there is no detailed information yet available. In this and many other London boroughs, there is minimal information on the plans that have been made public and decisions are effectively being taken in secret. Searching the Council’s web site for details of Committee Meetings and Decisions reveals no information. This is a good example of a “bad” borough in terms of democracy.

City of London: The City of London Corporation have issued a note that says the following:

What are the changes? On-street measures will include: Timed closures to motor vehicles, mostly 7am – 7pm, allowing limited access to premises for people with access needs, deliveries and servicing; Reallocation of carriageway to space for walking, queueing and cycling and priority for buses; Closing streets to through traffic or other changes in operation, e.g. switching to one-way.

Where will the changes be? Change is required across the Square Mile and will be delivered in phases. The following streets have been selected for Phase 1 based on pedestrian numbers, pavement widths, cycling demand and connections to destinations, retail and transport hubs: Cannon Street (between Queen Victoria Street and Monument junction); Cheapside and Poultry; Old Jewry and Coleman Street; Lombard Street; Leadenhall Street and St Mary Axe; Threadneedle Street and Old Broad Street.

There are a lot of pedestrians that cross Cannon Street from Cannon Street Station but closing the road when the Bank Junction is already closed is going to be very damaging to traffic flows.

More information is available here: https://tinyurl.com/y76jk363 including where to send objections.

All of these measures are claimed to be justified by the Covid-19 epidemic but they are unlikely to be temporary and are just a continuation of the City Corporation’s attack on all vehicle users. That includes the disabled or infirm to whom few concessions are made.

MAKE SURE YOU OBJECT AND STOP THE CLOSURES SPREADING!

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Lewisham Road Closure News

Scawen Road

What’s happening you may ask about the proposed road closures in Lewisham? These were originally proposed for Lee Green and other parts of the Borough under the Healthy Neighbourhood scheme, but are now being put forward as Covid-19 epidemic emergency responses. At least that seems to be the justification as it is proving impossible to obtain any information on them from the Council. I suspect this is a deliberate obstruction of local democracy but I am submitting a Freedom of Information Act request to obtain more information.

In the meantime, Councillor Sophie McGeevor has issued the following Tweet: “As part of our emergency roll out of measures to support walking and cycling in Lewisham 6 modal filters (of an initial phase of 30) are being implemented next week!”

The roads involved are: Scawen Road (see photo above), George Lane, Kitto Road, Glenbow Rd, South Row, Bishopsthorpe Rd and Silverdale. These are spread around the borough so why they have been selected is not obvious.

You can see more information and add some comments here:  https://lewishamcovidresidentialstreets.commonplace.is/overview

PLEASE MAKE SURE YOU ADD SOME NEGATIVE COMMENTS AND “LIKE” THOSE WHO OPPOSE THESE CLOSURES!

You could also send comments to Sophie McGeevor who is responsible for these plans – her email address is CllrSophie.McGeevor@lewisham.gov.uk

If you don’t object, these closures are likely to be made permanent! The closures are likely to be implemented via Experimental Traffic Orders but these do not yet appear to have been published. It is important to oppose them when published. You should be able to find them in The Gazette (see https://www.thegazette.co.uk/  ) where all official notices appear. To search for notices from any London Borough use the search function to search for the boroughs name, e.g. “London Borough of Lewisham”).

The ABD suggests that roads should not be closed without prior public consultations that include both local residents and road users. Such road closures do not help with social distancing so there is no justification for them as “emergency” measures. They create more traffic congestion and longer journey times. All roads should be shared by different users, not closed to vehicle traffic.

These roads are being closed using “Modal Filters” which is simply a euphemism and a deliberate misleading of the public. Only cyclists can easily get through such closures, and they will even obstruct emergency service vehicles.

MAKE SURE YOU OBJECT AND STOP THE CLOSURES SPREADING!

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